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The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian…

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for… (edition 2011)

by Russell Freedman

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3699129,371 (4.11)2
Title:The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights
Authors:Russell Freedman
Info:Sandpiper (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 128 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Nonfiction, highschool, journals articles newspapers, historic

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The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman



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The Voice that Challenged a Nation is a fantastic biography of Marian Anderson, the first female African American opera singer to achieve fame and success in Europe and the United States. Her success, however, did not protect her from the harsh racism that was still abundant in the US for the majority of her life. She handled it all with grace, charisma, and intelligence, but most of all with the professionalism and beauty of a true artist. Hers is an inspiring story that will have you cheering for her from the very first page - not only for her, but for the equal treatment of all.

This book would be perfect for a social studies unit on civil rights, especially focusing on the events leading up to the movement itself. In addition, it would bring greater understanding to a music classroom studying the genre of opera. Important discussions about equality and what it really means to live in a democracy would easily be brought to a class through this book. ( )
  Michaela.Bushey | Nov 22, 2013 |
The voice that challenged a nation: Marian Anderson and the struggle for equal rights, by Russell Freedman, is about the life of Marian Anderson and her dream of singing. She overcame many obstacles: racial prejudices, finical difficulties, etc… to achieve her dream of singing in the metropolitan opera. She also was a civil rights icon despite the fact that, that was not what she wanted. She sang in front of the Lincoln Memorial when the DAR denied her the use of Constitution Hall. I liked this book but I would not use it in a lesson. She was a reluctant civil rights icon not an activist. She just wanted to sing not make a political statement. I don’t feel this would be useful in a lesson on the civil rights era.
As to the style of the book, the book ideas are clearly organized. The author makes the language very accessible to the reader. The language is rather vivid. The text is very engaging and uses many narratives and anecdotes. The tone of the book is conversational. ( )
  Areamatha | May 9, 2013 |
This was a very inspiring book about a very talented person overcoming racial struggles during the time of the civil rights movement. As a non-fiction piece, I enjoyed seeing all of the photos and inserts that were relevant to the story being told. I like that she represented a change in our society that was necessary for us to be a more well rounded country with regard to the arts. I also like that it showed a comparison of the way things were at the same time frame in parts of Europe and how she was treated in both places. The accuracy of this book with regard to the time frame was very intriguing and also very pertinent to the overall point of the book, which I felt was that however unfair and dehumanizing discrimination is in every day life, to deny our culture the beauty of very talented artists based on something completely irrelevant to that art is in a word tragic.
I particularly enjoy the cover art on this book. For me it does many things. There are many visual cues that point toward the general tone of the book. The biggest word on the cover is the word “voice.” This showed that the most important thing about the person in the book was not her race or looks or sex, it was that she was one of the most talented singers of the time. It also took a ground-shaking event in her life and depicted it in a very symbolic way. She is standing off center from the photo, and what is in the center is the statue of Lincoln of which she is standing in front of. The one person in the history of the U.S. up to that point who had the biggest impact on African American rights. Aside from the placement of the two of them, they are shown in a perspective where they are the same size. Having been to the Lincoln Memorial, I know that the statue is massive. This shows to me that that concert had a large impact on the mindsets of the nation at the time. Also on either side of her were the pillars that are in front of the memorial. To me, this is representative of the stature of changes that were taking place at the time.
All around, I could see this book being taught, (or at least used as a tool to teach) as a significant change in the mindsets of those involved in the art world and civil rights movement of the era. At the least, it could be used as a suggested text to use during a February project on civil rights or the changing perspectives of those involved in the theater or art world during the 60’s and 70’s. It was a powerful book and I feel it gave an honest account of a very talented individual and her struggles with racism.
  AaronPendleton | May 6, 2013 |
(This book was read as part of my Newbery Award project; it was an Honor Book in 2005.)

I must confess at the outset that I am not much of a biography reader, although I do make exceptions if the subject is especially interesting to me. Marian Anderson was very famous in my childhood and I still like to listen to her recordings. It seemed incredible to me that [a:Russell Freedman|9263|Russell Freedman|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66.jpg], the author of this Newbery Honor Book, had not always known the story of Anderson's concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. I mean, my parents, who grew up in rural Maine and were not liberals, knew this story and recounted it to me. But, apparently, Freedman only heard it relatively recently and this inspired him to choose Anderson as the subject for this biography.

Freedman has written several other biographies for young people, including [b:Lincoln: A Photobiography|106597|Lincoln A Photobiography (Houghton Mifflin social studies)|Russell Freedman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171565752s/106597.jpg|2123264] which won the Newbery Award in 1988. I kept wondering, what makes [b:The Voice That Challenged a Nation|614054|The Voice That Challenged a Nation Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights|Russell Freedman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1176333716s/614054.jpg|600503] a young people's biography? It is shorter, true, than the average book written for adults, and the print is larger. I really appreciated that the many photographs were scattered throughout the book in their proper contexts, rather than being relegated to one or two sections of plates as in most "adult" books. But the writing is not particularly child-friendly, except that Freedman explains the pre-Civil Rights era of Jim Crow laws for children who never experienced it. His sources are mostly secondary. I did learn some things about Marian Anderson that I didn't know before, and came away with a fresh appreciation for her struggles and her artistry. This would be a fine book for a child to read for a school assignment or if s/he just didn't care much for fiction. I'm not convinced it was one of the three of four best children's books of its year, though. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
This book is about the life and career of Marian Anderson. She was a black woman with a miraculous voice trying to build her career during a time of segregation. Her life is full of struggles, heartbreak, and triumph. It was hard for her to even get her voice her by professionals at the beginning. She went all over the world building her reputation as a top artist. She came back to the U.S., only to find that the racial wall was still there regardless of who she was. Although she was not a fighter, her voice was used to break down that barrier.

The author of this book has written many autobiographies and history books for young readers. He has won many awards. This leads to the accuracy of this book. He also has chapter notes to back up his facts so we don’t have to just take his word for it.

He covers Anderson’s entire life from her falling in love with singing, losing her father, struggles to make is as a black artist, her success around the world, to her breaking down the race barrier here in the U.S. The details given on her life go very deep into every facet of her struggle to make it. The author’s focus is to show the difference she made through her success and amazing voice.

The author’s style was very factual. He seemed to be just telling her story. He did use language that was quite vivid and allowed you to see the scene clearly and moved you emotionally at times. You can clearly understand how Marian feels at many points.

Freedman starts out setting the scene of the high point in Marian’s career, her performance at the Lincoln Memorial: the taking of a stand and refusing to give up. From there, he starts back at the beginning when she was a child and fell in love with music and progresses mainly chronologically in a narrative format.

The table of contents’ headings may not be clear at first but build curiosity and are made clear pretty quickly. The chapter notes clarify the accuracy of the information and the bibliography allows you to find further information. It is not your typical bibliography nor is it an annotated bibliography. It is laid out in more of a paragraph form that lets you know what the source is about. There is also a discography should you want to find her music. The picture credits obviously give credit to the source of the photographs. The photos are interspersed throughout the book and follow along with the narrative. They help you to see the story. These are not only pictures of the people but of the places and programs of her performances. Finally, there is an index that will allow you to locate what you are looking for quickly.

Overall, I was not the biggest fan of this book. It is an amazing story of an amazing woman and something that I knew nothing about. I found myself many times thinking “just get on with it already”. It felt slow moving. While some people may find the slow pace captivating, I found it tiring. I found many of the events quite interesting but the pace of getting from one to the other made it seem to take forever.

This book would be great to have in a classroom as a selected biography. I think it is an interesting story that needs to be heard. I am not sure if it would make for a full lesson but it would be great to have it as a resource in the classroom. ( )
  Sandra_Loya | Mar 14, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618159762, Hardcover)

"A voice like yours," celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini told contralto Marian Anderson, "is heard once in a hundred years." This insightful account of the great African American vocalist considers her life and musical career in the context of the history of civil rights in this country. Drawing on Anderson's own writings and other contemporary accounts, Russell Freedman shows readers a singer pursuing her art despite the social constraints that limited the careers of black performers in the 1920s and 1930s. Though not a crusader or a spokesperson by nature, Marian Anderson came to stand for all black artists-and for all Americans of color-when, with the help of such prominent figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, she gave her landmark 1939 performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which signaled the end of segregation in the arts.
Carefully researched, expertly told, and profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, this Newbery Honor book is a moving account of the life of a talented and determined artist who left her mark on musical and social history. Through her story, one of today's leading authors of nonfiction for young readers illuminates the social and political climate of the day and an important chapter in American history. Notes, bibliography, discography, index.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:11 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the mid-1930s, Marian Anderson was a famed vocalist who had been applauded by European royalty and welcomed at the White House. But, because of her race, she was denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. This is the story of her resulting involvement in the civil rights movement of the time.… (more)

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